Friday, December 8, 2017

The Shape of Water, Wonder Wheel, Last Flag Flying, The Breadwinner Reviews

The Shape of Water
Dir. Guillermo del Toro
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Whether a fairy tale like Beauty and the Beast or a creature feature like King Kong, there has been an ongoing thread of romantic longing between "outsider" humans and non-humans in fantasy movies for decades. But where those films only dipped their toe in the water regarding lady-on-monster love affairs, with The Shape of Water Guillermo del Toro dives in headfirst. Telling a love story between a mute woman and an amphibious man, this movie could only work with Guillermo's wonderfully mystical, grotesque, and melodramatic sense of filmmaking. Its main concept may lose a few people, but if, like me, you connect with del Toro's sensibilities, you'll find that this may very well be the most enchanting fish romance ever caught on film.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Coco, Roman J. Israel, Esq., Loving Vincent, Novitiate Reviews

Dir. Lee Unkrich
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"They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people." These words helped elect our current wall-obsessed president into office - words that paint a portrait of Mexican immigrants as, to put it in Obi Wan terms, a hive of scum and villainy. Pixar's latest, Coco, is pretty much the cinematic antidote to those hate-filled diatribes spouted by ignorant people. Celebrating Mexican culture, its music, traditions, mythology, and family dynamics, Coco is a beautiful a love letter to our neighbors south of the border.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Justice League, Wonderstruck, Lady Bird, Jane Reviews

Justice League
Dir. Zack Snyder
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During the opening credits of Justice League, there's a moment where we see a homeless man with a cardboard sign reading: "I tried." That pretty much sums up Warner Brothers' whole attempt at creating their DC universe. Struggling to keep up the pace with Marvel Studios, DC dived in head-first, making their "team-up" movies like Batman v. Superman, Suicide Squad, and now Justice League without first testing the waters to see if audiences liked the individual characters first. Plus their whole game plan started on the back of Man of Steel, which was highly divisive (unlike the universally-loved Iron Man with Marvel). The whole thing is on shaky ground, and now that Justice League failed to even crack that $100 million mark opening weekend, the future for this franchise looks questionable. As it should - because Justice League is one of the worst movies I've seen this year.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Thor: Ragnarok, Jigsaw, Suburbicon, The Killing of a Sacred Deer Reviews

Thor: Ragnarok
Dir. Taika Waititi

Thor was never the most interesting Avengers character. Over two solo movies and two Avengers flicks, Chris Hemsworth had depicted the God of Thunder as more or less a pompous all-powerful god who can't be killed - which doesn't exactly lend itself to audience relatability. However, this third film, helmed by New Zealand comedy director Taika Waititi (Hunt for the Wilderpeople - my #8 of 2016), spins the character into completely new territory. Perhaps his time with Tony Stark has rubbed off on him, because now Thor is a snarky wiseass who literally laughs in the face of danger. Straying away from the decidedly staid "Shakespearian" tone of Thor and The Dark World, Ragnarok is a colorful, vibrant, funny comedy in the vein of Guardians of the Galaxy that finally embraces the inherent campiness of this world of Norse gods-in-space.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Happy Death Day, Goodbye Christopher Robin, The Florida Project, Lucky Reviews

Happy Death Day
Dir. Christopher B. Landon

When I think "independent cinema," the images that form in my head are typically heavy social dramas, quirky comedies, or documentaries about impoverished farmers shot in black and white that play in two theaters. But strangely enough, one of the few companies that sells independent films to mainstream, big studios is Blumhouse Productions. Run by Jason Blum, the company has become famous for turning low-budget horror flicks into big hits - like Paranormal Activity, Insidious, The Purge, Split, and Get Out. They're pretty much the "Marvel" of horror right now, with a brand name that is starting to represent new and interesting fright flicks. Their latest, released on lucky Friday the 13th, is more or less Groundhog Day-meets-Scream, and again proves that you don't need a big budget to make a fun movie!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Blade Runner 2049, American Made, Battle of the Sexes, Victoria & Abdul Reviews

Blade Runner 2049
Dir. Denis Villeneuve
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Entering the tradition of Tron: Legacy, Independence Day: Resurgence, and even Disney's recent Star Wars reboot, Blade Runner 2049 is a sequel that comes a ridiculous amount of time after its predecessor. It's been 35 years since Ridley Scott's now-classic sci-fi adaptation bombed at the box office, and it seems as though Blade Runner, unlike those aforementioned properties, has far less mainstream appeal. It's philosophical, somewhat ambiguous, slow-paced, and lacks the "whiz-bang" action modern audiences are used to getting from other futuristic flicks. Although it's no surprise to me that Blade Runner 2049 - a sequel no one was really asking for - is struggling at the box office, I do have to give director Denis Villeneuve a lot of credit for even attempting to recapture the ponderous and dream-like feelings of the original film. However, although the film partially succeeds in that regard, its overlong run-time, dull characters, and unclear stakes make for an experience that probably works better as a post-movie discussion springboard than a piece of entertainment.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

It, mother!, Stronger, Tulip Fever Reviews

Note to Readers:
Hello, my movie blog-reading friends! Thank you for your readership and support over the years - it's truly meant a lot to me and I hope to continue this hobby for years to come. However, my life has been getting busier and busier, so the frequency with which I see and review "Talkies" might be fewer and farther between than before. To say I've been occupied with other things lately is the understatement of the century, so it might take me a while to make a new posting. It's probably none of your concern, but I just wanted to let you know - you can rest assured: Talking the Talkies is still alive!

Dir. Andrés Muschietti
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The original IT novel from 1986 is a brick-sized tome that was the result of massive amounts of cocaine. While commonly hailed as one of Stephen King's greatest achievements, I think most people have no idea just how crazy it is: there's a giant floating space turtle-god, children building their own Native American hallucination-inducing "smokehole," a schoolyard bully being pleasured by his friend in an open garbage dump, and - worst of all - an 11-year-old girl participates in a pages-long orgy sequence in the sewers with six younger males. It goes without saying that to expect a straight adaptation of such an insane novel would be asking too much. Besides reading like the fever dream of a coked-out pedophile, one thing that the IT novel could not be labelled as, however, is cliched or boring. Unfortunately, in this Stranger Things-inspired 2017 adaptation, little is done with the property to make it interesting, complex, or particularly worth revisiting.

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